Tad Pfeffer joins the Luxuriant Facial Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS)

November 29th, 2015

Tad Pfeffer has joined the Luxuriant Facial Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He says:

I have spent my ~40-year research career studying the mechanics of glaciers and ice sheets and their role in sea level change. For much of that time, I used to preface lectures and conference presentations with the observation that there is something intrinsically funny about being paid to run around on glaciers and think about how they work. Sea level rise isn’t as funny as it used to be, but the principle still stands. My membership in the LFHCfS is simply consistent with this philosophy and reinforces the long and time-honored tradition of scientists getting away with nonsense generally. (PS The headshot on my Jefferson Fellows page is an old one, and my beard there is nothing to write home to Mom about. Here, instead, is a Getty photo of me taken by Natalie Cass at the Sundance Film Festival.)

W.T. Pfeffer, Ph.D, LFHCfS
Professor, INSTAAR and
Dept. of Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, Colorado, USA


David Plonka joins the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS)

November 29th, 2015

David Plonka has joined the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He says:

I am a research scientist and Internet researcher. My luxuriant flowing hair is as much the result of my hair-cutter leaving the employ of my barber shop many years ago (and my having not patronized any such establishment since) as it is the key element in an extended social experiment to determine what it takes for a scientist to be most often be referred to as “dude.” As such, it has most certainly improved my life.

David Plonka, Ph.D, LFHCfS
Research Scientist
Akamai Technologies
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA


The tweets of Dr. Kwak (Twitter Investigator)

November 28th, 2015

Dr-KwakThe tweets of Dr. Kwak, who is an expert on Twitter [being the lead author of ‘What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?’ (cited 3,000+ times)] may be found here.

From tumbling toast to falling phones

November 27th, 2015

The physicist who won an Ig Nobel Prize for analyzing whether buttered toast usually falls on the buttered side has now examined the similar question: what happens when you drop a mobile phone?

The Digit web site reports:

Why do phones always seem fall with their screen facing down? While most people would be satisfied with blaming their luck or Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) when they drop their phone and crack the screen, Motorola has taken the problem very seriously. So seriously that they have asked physicist Robert Matthews to study the phenomenon. Matthews is best known for his paper called Tumbling toast, Murphy’s Law and the fundamental constants, which studied why toast always seems to land on the buttered side. For this paper, Matthews won an Ig Nobel prize in 1996.


Here’s a minimovie documentary about the tumbling toast research:

Ig Nobel day-after-Thanksgiving broadcast on Science Friday

November 27th, 2015

Spread the word, please! Today, Friday, November 27, the Science Friday radio program will broadcast its specially edited highlights from the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. It’s SciFri’s 24th annual broadcast (SciFri began this day-after-Thanksgiving tradition in 1992, the Ig Nobel ceremony’s second year).

Listen to it on a public radio station, if you’re near one, or on the Internet. (Science Friday is broadcast as two separate, hour-long programs. The Ig Nobel broadcast comprises the entire SECOND HOUR of Science Friday. HOWEVER — Boston is going to be an exception; in Boston, WBUR (90.0 FM) broadcasts only one hour of the two-hour-long Science Friday program, and by special arrangement, today WBUR plans to broadcast the Ig Nobel ceremony special at 2:00 pm.)

This photo shows a moment at the ceremony: Justin Schmidt and Michael Smith, co-winners of the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physiology and entomology, finish their acceptance speech at the urging of eight-year-old Miss Sweetie Poo (who is assisted by many of the former Miss Sweetie Poos, who were on hand for a reunion at this, the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Alexey Eliseev took the photo:


BONUS: Download your own copies of IgBill, the printed program for the 2014 ceremony, and the 2014 ceremony poster.

BONUS: From SciFri archives, here’s last year (2014)’s Ig Nobel broadcast.

BONUS: Subscribe to the magazine — the Annals of Improbable Research, and you will receive the special Ig Nobel issue, as well as five other improbable issues!